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Unsecured Debt, Consumer Bankruptcy, and Small Business

  • Césaire A. Meh
  • Yaz Terajima

In this paper we develop a quantitative model of entrepreneurial activity (risk-taking) and consumer bankruptcy choices and use the model to study the effects of bankruptcy regulations on entrepreneurial activity, bankruptcy rate and welfare. We show that eliminating bankruptcy exemptions leads to a modest increase in the fraction of entrepreneurs, a large decrease in the overall bankruptcy rate and a significant welfare gain. In contrast, eliminating the whole consumer bankruptcy system leads to a large fall in the fraction of entrepreneurs and a substantial welfare loss. These two findings suggest that the consumer bankruptcy system is desirable but it must be well-designed with regard to bankruptcy asset exemptions. In particular, excessive bankruptcy exemptions can be counter-productive. Finally, we argue that entrepreneurial activity is important when studying different bankruptcy rules or regulations.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Staff Working Papers with number 08-5.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:08-5
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  1. Jeremy Berkowitz & Michelle J. White, 2004. "Bankruptcy and Small Firms' Access to Credit," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(1), pages 69-84, Spring.
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  15. Li, Wenli & Sarte, Pierre-Daniel, 2006. "U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice: The importance of general equilibrium effects," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 613-631, April.
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  17. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  18. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "A Quantitative Theory of Unsecured Consumer Credit with Risk of Default," Centro de Alti­simos Estudios Ri­os Pe©rez(CAERP) 2, Centro de Altisimos Estudios Rios Perez (CAERP).
  19. Scott Fay & Erik Hurst & Michelle J. White, 2002. "The Household Bankruptcy Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 706-718, June.
  20. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
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